chapter  II
9 Pages

The City Corporation

For nearly a thousand years the government of this central core has lain in the hands of the Corporation of the City of London. The long line of charters relating to the City1 com­ mences with one granted by William thé Conqueror in 1070; and even Magna Charta contained an express provision that the City of London should have all its ancient liberties and customs.2 For many centuries the City played a part of great importance in the nation’s history. Its efforts were especially redoubtable in the struggle for popular rights against autocratic monarchs, until the Stuart period, when it capitulated in an ignoble manner to royal absolutism. The very power and prestige which the City had acquired through the long years were decisive influences in enabling the Corporation to resist reform in 1835. Yet even in 1835 the City was chiefly living on its past; for the decline of the City Corporation as a living force had set in with the opening of the 18th century.3 The centre of gravity had already moved to Westminster.